Green Forest alum gifts program grant
Gifted and talented students in the Green Forest School District got a special holiday gift last week.
The Green Forest K-6 Gifted and Talented Program was awarded a $4,900 grant from the newly formed Villines-Grijalva Charitable Fund, money which will be used for enhancing and enriching the Gifted and Talented student program — whether that be by taking trips, doing research or creating hands-on learning projects.
According to Janell Robertson, executive director of the Carroll County Community Foundation, the grant comes from a donor-advised fund created by a grateful alumnus, Amelia Villines, and fellow contributor Janae Grijalva.
“People can create these funds and continue to make tax-deductible donations and give back to the community,” Robertson said. “[The Gifted and Talented program at Green Forest] is a wonderful program and it continues to be.”
Villines, a Green Forest graduate who now lives in California, established the fund as a way to thank the program for what it allowed her to accomplish.
“My daughter remembers the times when she was in the Gifted and Talented program and many of the educational trips they took as some of her fondest memories,” said Suzanne Villines, Amelia’s mother and representative for the Villines-Grijalva Charitable Fund, speaking to Green Forest students. “Amelia wants you to have the opportunity to have the same experiences, so she has graciously created this charitable fund to support the Green Forest K-6 GT program.”
Gifted and Talented K-6 teacher Makayla Sanders said the grant will be a big asset for the program.
“We’re so, so thankful for their generosity and help with our overall funds,” Sanders said. “We are planning to use that for future STEM projects and hopefully field trips in the future depending on regulations as far as the ongoing pandemic.”
According to Sanders, the gifted and talented curriculum is differentiated to accommodate divergent thinking and higher-level thinking skills among gifted students and provides in-depth enrichment in areas of student interest emphasizing research, communication, and study skills.
“This will really help expand the kind of experiences our students are able to have,” Sanders said, “the opportunities they’re going to have, and to go experience different kinds of things that they wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise. I know that was really important to Amelia whenever she was in school in the GT program, specifically getting to go and see different things, experience different learning opportunities around the state and even beyond that.
“That’s kind of what we’re hoping for these students as well, whether it be, right now, virtual opportunities that they wouldn’t have normally and things like that.”
The Carroll County Community Foundation was established in 2001 by local community leaders who saw an opportunity to provide permanent sources of charitable funding for nonprofits who work in and for the people of our area.
The foundation, one of 29 affiliates of Arkansas Community Foundation, has provided more than $1.3 million in grants through 47 charitable funds and endowment in its 20 years of service to the county. These grants support programs that respond to critical needs, such as food insecurity and medical issues, as well as programs that sustain and enrich, like the arts and education.
“We encourage smart giving to improve our neighborhoods, towns and rural communities now and forever and proudly work with charitable donors to customize their own funds and endowments,” Robertson said. “We also maintain a connection with local nonprofits which helps us understand their needs and the local issues.”